From behind the newspaper at my nose, the steel legs of the opposite chair shrieked across the stone. Something slithered into its lap. I paid it no notice. My eyes stumbled across the headlines, finding none of any interest yet. None were so grabbing as to tear my thoughts away from the stranger who had taken up rest in my territory. The clamor and bustle of the outdoor diner patio was hypnotizing. As my ears gave way to my perceptive eyes, the sounds faded into a drone. Looking through the void created by my leg hooked across the far knee, I travelled the paneled stone of the patio, arriving at his loafers rooted firmly in place. They were ratty, masterfully crafted but arrogantly worn into an old, earthen sheen. The trunks of his legs made a sharp turn at his ankles and burgeoned up away into the realm I could not distinguish from behind the paper wall before me. I could collapse it-perhaps break it down or pull it at the corner, dismantling it from end to end and engaging the stranger where he sat. I could inquire his intentions. I would ask Yes and he would reply Hello and I would retort Do you need anything and crack the dam, causing the drivel the local men have taken up as a dialect to come spewing forth, ruining my good sense and new clothes. But the question of his intentions pervaded. Has he come to make acquaintances? In this day and age, I dare think not. Then maybe, perchance, he has come to beg of a favor. Food. Or money. A feeble shell of a boy walking on thinning stilts high above a glass roof. And if I were to deny him, he would rob me. With all the evils he received at birth he would wrestle me to the ground, victimizing me and my pockets. Would I be able to fight him off? Surely. I am a strong man, and humble at that. Humility bequeaths justice upon its apostles. And so I would win. Yes, yes! Clear as day I can see my victory; the stranger will cry Save me save me! No petty boy shall overcome me.
Thus I folded the paper, laid it flush in the sun. I squinted through the new flood of light at the stranger across the way. His back was hunched and drooped over his folded hands, resembling a moment of prayer. I was off-put. Yes, I asked. He jumped at the sound of my voice. Godless Perseus trembling before the booming kraken. Hello, he replied. Do you need anything? The stranger frowned.
I find it terrible you're expecting something. Forgive me, this was all a mistake.
The stranger placed his unsteady hands on the arm of his chair, lifting himself above me. His great mind eclipsed the sun, and I was better able to see him. He held tight to his walking stick in one hand, turned, and blindly teetered away, stuttering off sounds as he swept the cane to and fro across the cold stone below him. With his departure, the sun filled my eyes again.